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Is Burl Ives underated?

DigiTrad:
LOLLIPOP TREE
THE LITTLE WHITE DUCK


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nutty 21 Oct 10 - 11:38 AM
pdq 21 Oct 10 - 11:46 AM
Wesley S 21 Oct 10 - 11:47 AM
Bill D 21 Oct 10 - 11:49 AM
Little Hawk 21 Oct 10 - 11:52 AM
Les from Hull 21 Oct 10 - 12:06 PM
kendall 21 Oct 10 - 12:11 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM
olddude 21 Oct 10 - 12:30 PM
Little Hawk 21 Oct 10 - 12:32 PM
Tiger 21 Oct 10 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,Ed 21 Oct 10 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,I certainly listened to him way back. 21 Oct 10 - 12:57 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Oct 10 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,999 21 Oct 10 - 01:01 PM
DonMeixner 21 Oct 10 - 01:03 PM
nutty 21 Oct 10 - 02:02 PM
Don Firth 21 Oct 10 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,kendall 21 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM
pdq 21 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM
Don Firth 21 Oct 10 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,Doc John 21 Oct 10 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Jjon 21 Oct 10 - 02:31 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 21 Oct 10 - 02:50 PM
zozimus 21 Oct 10 - 03:02 PM
Don Firth 21 Oct 10 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,mik lancashire 19 Sep 16 - 06:17 AM
Uncle Tone 19 Sep 16 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 19 Sep 16 - 08:16 AM
mkebenn 19 Sep 16 - 08:58 AM
Joe Offer 19 Sep 16 - 11:13 AM
keberoxu 19 Sep 16 - 02:36 PM
kendall 19 Sep 16 - 03:46 PM
Mrrzy 19 Sep 16 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Josephine 18 Nov 16 - 06:29 PM
meself 18 Nov 16 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,gopherit 18 Nov 16 - 10:38 PM
Dave Hanson 19 Nov 16 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,padgett 19 Nov 16 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 19 Nov 16 - 08:50 AM
Lighter 19 Nov 16 - 04:07 PM
Joe Offer 19 Nov 16 - 10:50 PM
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Subject: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: nutty
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:38 AM

Throughout Mudcat - when folksingers are rated on their performance and the influence they have on the folk revival , it is rare to hear Burl Ives being mentioned.

When I was young he was one of the few folksingers to be heard on the radio and although the material was commercial (e.g. big rock candy mountain) it was well presented and infinitely singable. He was partly responsible for giving me a love of singing folksongs.

I feel his influence on my generation (I'm in my 60's) is underated. What do others think?


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: pdq
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:46 AM

Perhaps more under-appreciated than under-rated?

Glen Yarbrough and Burl Ives both rate as exceptional singers when judged by any reasonable standards, but neither sings in a way that is traditional "folk".


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Wesley S
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:47 AM

I agree - he introduced a lot of people to whatever it is called folk music. But he'll always be under rated because he was - gasp - popular. We love obscurity. And since he made the bulk of his income as an actor I'm sure a lot of folks just thought of him as moonlighting as a folk singer. At least that's my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:49 AM

There have been several threads on Burl. I saw him on the old Morning Show with Jack Paar about 1954, and yes, he DID introduce many of us to folk music. Underrated? By whom? He just made nice music and presented them in places where few folkies had gone. I still have several of his LPs.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:52 AM

Burl Ives had a huge influence on the folk scene in the 50s and early 60s, but he tended to be discounted after the new wave of folkies came along led by Bob Dylan and writing more contemporary songs. Burl Ives type of material began to seem "quaint" and old-fashioned in comparison, and was thus scorned by many fans of the younger set of performers.

He was also bitterly resented by many folkies for testifying against other folk performers before the HUAC (an action which he seems to have greatly regretted later).

I think he made a huge contribution to the folk revival, and he also turned out to be a really fine actor in movies such as "The Big Country", "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", and "Let No Man Write My Epitaph". His roles in those films are unforgettable.

He had a beautifully rich voice and great stage presence too.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:06 PM

I never liked his voice or his choice of songs. It was much later when I found out he had shopped Pete Seeger and others as commies that I thought my initial thoughts were right.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: kendall
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:11 PM

Pete was a communist but he quit the party. He also served with honor in the US Army.

I wonder why outing commies didn't hurt Robert Taylor?


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM

I interviewed Burl Ives for The Guardian at the Brighton Festival in1977 (in, as it happens, the Grand Hotel's best suite which later became the target of an IRA outrage!). He cheerfully admitted that he had made most money and had most success with what his father once denounced, early in his career, as his more "soupy" songs. It was, I think, a tendency to soupiness, to sentimental or childish original songs mixed in with the more traditional repertoire for which his memory is most respected, that has caused later generations to look on him somewhat dismissively. But I do believe that he was one of the most important influences on the early days of the "second revival", and on the course it took.

He was, incidentally, a most pleasant, polite, unassuming and charming man to meet.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: olddude
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:30 PM

could care less about politics ... it is all about music and I think his contribution was nothing short of amazing. Us little kids learned to listen to "folk" because of him .. doing songs like Jimmy crack corn and a host of others .. don't think he was appreciated as much as he should have been. I don't care about mistakes in the past ... everyone falls, realizes their wrongs, and tries to be a better person for it. That was a dark time in America. Who really know what any of us would have done . We all would like to think it would have been something different but we were not in his shoes


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:32 PM

Your initial thoughts were neither "right" nor "wrong", Les, they were merely an indication of your own specific musical tastes.

There's no reason I can see why an artist's political decisions on one occasion or another should serve as a basis on which to judge the quality of his musical performances and everything else about him. I don't like the fact that Burl Ives testified against Pete Seeger and other folksingers...don't like it at all...but that has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to appreciate the man when he sings...or when he acts in a movie.

People aren't ALL good or ALL bad merely on the basis of their politics, and they shouldn't be judged so. They are a mixture of human qualities, strengths and weaknesses, good and bad, as are we all.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Tiger
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:45 PM

I completely agree with nitty.

Burl Ives was the first 'folk' singer I ever heard. My father introduced me to him via a 10-inch Decca LP (the 12-inchers hadn't appeared yet). I still have it, BTW. It's a collection of 78RPM recordings done in 1945, reissued on 10-inch LP in 1949-50.

Many of those songs are in my gig bag now, but my favorite (virtually never heard) is "On the Grand Canyon Line"


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:48 PM

People aren't ALL good or ALL bad merely on the basis of their politics, and they shouldn't be judged so

Never a wiser word spoken, Little Hawk.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,I certainly listened to him way back.
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:57 PM

I recall hearing and seeing Ives on radio and television. As to whether he`s underrated or not, I just don`t know.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 12:59 PM

There probably wouldn't have been a 60s folk revival without the Weavers. And there wouldn't have been a market for the Weavers if burl Ives hadn't paved the way. His effect on what we call folk music is inestimable. And he was a fine singer.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 01:01 PM

I recall hearing and seeing Ives on radio and television. As to whether he`s underrated or not, I just don`t know.

That was me.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 01:03 PM

I recall watching a program on Public Televison about 20 years ago that was a performance by Burl Ives at The Chattaqua. He was a toward the end of his touring carreer but not his performing ability.
And yes he did those songs that many people have come to detest in a group but grin warmly from the memory of them inside where no one sees. His voice was still rich and warm and flawless. His guitar work was simple and clean and suited for the parlor guitar he played.
A Martin 0-16 NY perhaps or maybe a nylon classical. But his playing was solid.

I often think I was watching a master at performing and this was a lesson in stage craft.

Did he talk to the HUAC? Yup and did he and Peter Seeger part as friends? I believe they did. And does it matter now? Maybe to some extent but not to the point where I can't forgive..

Don


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: nutty
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:02 PM

Perhaps it'a a case of "a prophet in his own country"

Obviously as a child growing up in the UK in the 40's and early 50's I was not aware of the political situation in the USA and my only contact with folk or popular music was Children's Favourites on the radio on a Saturday morning.

I can't remember any other folksinger featuring in the way Burl Ives did, so I feel that, without his influence, I may not have developed my love of the genre.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:08 PM

It was in the 1940s when I was a teenager that I used to listen to Burl Ives on the radio (Sunday afternoon, if I recall correctly). He talked about American history and sang folk songs related to the historical events he was discussing. I remember one program in particular in which he talked about the conception and building of the Erie canal and its importance in developing what was then thought of as "the West." Several songs, including "I Got a Mule and Her Name is Sal" and "When the E-ri-e was a-Risin.'" I learned more about the Erie canal that afternoon than I ever learned in any American history class

During the 1940s, to the general public, the names of Burl Ives and a young gal named Susan Reed were synonymous with folk music. And when I first became actively interested in folk music, one of the first sources for songs to learn that I pounced on were the records of Burl Ives—of which there were many. In 1952, the first time I went sifting through the folk music bin at Campus Music and Gallery looking specifically for records to learn songs from, there were about a dozen folk records, all 10" LPs. One Richard Dyer-Bennet, one Pete Seeger ("Darling Corey" on Folkways), one Lead Belly, one Josh White, one Susan Reed, and the rest were Burl Ives (all on Decca as I remember).

It wasn't until much later that Ives started singing frothy stuff like "Little Bitty Tear" and "Little White Duck" and such. A lot of fledgling singers such as myself regarded Burl Ives as "Big Daddy" well before he played Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Incidentally, it wasn't the role of Big Daddy that earned him his Oscar, it was the role of Rufus Hannassey in "The Big Country." Ives was a bloody brilliant actor!!

As to Burl Ives "naming" Pete Seeger, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and others as "Communists," as I understand it, Ives was one of the first to be called to testify and he had no idea of what the others, such as Pete, were going to do. He said, yes, they did sing for various labor organizations. "Why?" "Because they asked us to, and they paid us." "Who else sang with you?" He did name those with whom he had sung at these events. The committee could have easily found out anyway, so he wasn't telling them anything they didn't already know. "Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?" "No!" responded Ives. "How about your friends? Are any of them Communists?" "I don't know," Ives said, hedging a bit, because he did know, but he didn't particularly care. Then he said, "You'll have to ask them."

During the whole thing, the committee had made the assumption that labor organizations and the Communist Party were synonymous.

It wasn't until later that Ives heard Pete Seeger lay into the committee, saying that he was an American, he had the right to belong to any political party he chose to, and that the committee had no right to ask him what party he belonged to.

Later on, Woody Guthrie, not particularly a man to hold grudges, visited Burl Ives in California where they talked a lot and swapped a lot of songs. On Guthrie's return to New York, he was asked about Ives. "Burl is one very angry man," he said. "He's angry at himself because he wishes that he had responded like Pete did. But since he was first up, it hadn't occurred to him!"

So—I think this business of getting on Burl Ives' case for "naming his friends" every time his name is brought up is a bit uncharitable at best and kind of mean-spirited at worst.

While Alan Lomax was doing great work, but laboring in obscurity, Burl Ives—no flashy guitar and simple, straightforward singing—and Susan Reed with her sweet, somewhat naïve persona, accompanying herself on her Irish harp and zither, were the public faces of folk music in the 1940s and early 1950s.

Susan also got zapped by the committee. And her singing career never recovered. I often wondered why she had vanished from sight on the very eve of the folk music revival, and learned about her run-in with the committee just recently. She was about as much of a danger to the country as a mild-mannered kitten!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM

He also appeared in East of Eden with James Dean.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: pdq
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:12 PM

"Ives was identified in the 1950 pamphlet Red Channels and blacklisted as an entertainer with supposed Communist ties. In 1952 he cooperated with the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) and agreed to testify. He stated that he was not a member of the Communist Party but that he had attended various union meetings with fellow folk singer Pete Seeger simply to stay in touch with working folk. He stated: 'You know who my friends are; you will have to ask them if they are Communists.'"

That was all he said about Pete Seeger. Lefties wanted him to ignore the sapoena and risk jail time. He chose to respect the authority of the House and attend as did Elia Kazan, Humphrey Bogart, and the vast majority of those who received a summons.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:17 PM

Thanks for the more precise quote, pdq.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:18 PM

That's my experience, nutty: Children's favourites was a well loved programme. Burl Ives featured quite a lot but there were others too: Elton Hayes and Shirley Abicaire, I remember, both singing folk songs or in the folk style (don't ask me what I mean by that: you know) Do you remember Jean Ritchie appearing on the radio, but perhaps a little later? At one time - before American records were allowed in the UK - Burl Ives was just about the only 'proper' folk singer you could buy.
No, I can't say I particularly like the quality of his voice with its odd accent either but at least it isn't operatic. Material like 'Little Biddy Tear' were quite dreadful but the 'proper' folk songs were OK for a start.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Jjon
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:31 PM

I'm younger Nutty b 1960. I think other influences eg. the Clancey brothers and Tommey Makem or especially "Singing Together" at school had more influence on me but would 60s UK childhood not know of say a lolipop tree or a burly bum hiking without him?

Not perhaps my eventual folk direction, but I can still play Burl Ives.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 02:50 PM

Burl Ives is probably the first singer of folk songs that those of us of a certain heard. His repertoire was vast, running from sea chanties and other work songs, cowboy & western, traditional (mostly from the British Isles), nursery and children's songs to and including outright popular songs of the day. Most of his (especially early) work was done in a very straight forward manner, and I wouldn't say that he broke any new ground, but certainly he is an important figure in the continuum of folk music.

I have about eight of his Decca LPs, and a box set from 1963, "America's Musical Heritage," of 100+ songs which, I suspect, consists of repressings of earlier recordings with an added spoken introduction by Ives. The set also contains a hardbound song book of the lyrics. This would be a wonderful starting point for someone to learn a traditional American repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: zozimus
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 03:02 PM

I think Burl Ives was totally underated as a song collector. He had an enormous collection of songs, regardless of what one thinks of his singing style,and was a source for many other singers.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 03:38 PM

Born in Jasper County, Illinois, he learned a huge number of songs from his grandmother and when, at the age of four, he sang the entire "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor," someone paid him 50¢. This made a bit of an impression on his young mind.

Beg, borrow, or steal a copy of his autobiography (actually written when he was not that old), Wayfaring Stranger. It's been some time since I read it, but one thing he wrote made a particular impression on me.

People kept telling him that he had a good singing voice (light tenor) and that he should train it. He went to New York and studied voice at a music conservatory. Not Juilliard, but he was sharing digs with a number of other music students, some of who were going to Juilliard.

He was often homesick, so he would pull out his guitar and sing to himself, songs that he'd learned from his grandmother as he was growing up (some 250 songs and ballads, he estimated) and other songs he'd picked up in his ramblings. Some of his snootier roomies would often make fun of his "homespun" songs. So one Sunday afternoon, he took his guitar and went to a nearby park (maybe Central Park, but I don't remember), sat on a park bench, and sang for himself and a small assembly of pigeons and squirrels. People walking by stopped to listen. It wasn't long before he had a fairly large crowd standing around or sitting cross-legged on the grass. He suddenly realized that he had wound up giving an impromptu concert. When he finished, people talked to him and told him how much they liked what they had heard.

He thought long and hard about that afternoon in the park. "Why," he eventually asked himself, "am I spending so much time, money, and effort learning German lieder and other art songs, songs that are in foreign languages and are otherwise foreign to me when I already have a big repertoire of songs that I really love to sing? What am I doing here!??"

And the rest is history.

See if you can find a copy of his book. It's a good read!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,mik lancashire
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 06:17 AM

burl ives had a voice which fitted perfectly with the GUITAR.i could listen to him forever.to be a good folk singer you also need a good voice.john d loudermilk came close but failed miserably on his lyrics.mik.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 06:45 AM

Thanks for flagging up an interesting old thread.

Burl Ives did have a major influence on the folk revival, especially in the UK West Country. How? Because he was a major inspiration for Cyril Tawney, who hearing Burl Ives thought, 'I could do that.' And did.

Cyril's voice also fitted well with his nylon strung guitar and you can certainly hear Burl's influence, especially when Cyril sang Burl Ives covers.

After leaving the navy in 1959 Cyril went on to found the West of England Folk Centre which pretty much kick-started the folk revival in the West Country.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 08:16 AM

Had Roy Harris (Mudcat handle 'Burl') still been with us he would definitely be extolling Burl Ives' virtues. Roy was a big fan, and described for me the awe with which he experienced a packed-house concert in Nottingham in the 1960s.

Like others I had an EP of his children's songs at an early age, which I only realised recently was an early folk influence. Having previously understood there was a bad odour clinging to him politically, I'm glad to have heard the more accurate accounts of his appearance before the US Senate given here.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: mkebenn
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 08:58 AM

I was listening to Burl Ives 5years(half my life, at the time) before the Trio released "Tom Dooly", and they were every bit as commercial and "fluffy" as mr. Ives. If not for him and Mrs Brockulhurst {first grade teacher} who had us singing folk songs daily as a part of class I'm not sure I'd have developed the life long love of this music that I have. Mike


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 11:13 AM

I wondered why he used the pseudonym " Burl." He changed it to "RoyH" in 2012, four years before he died. Thanks for explaining, Brian.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: keberoxu
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 02:36 PM

I can think of a parallel / comparison here, a Him versus Him type of thing, just thought of it as a Mudcatter recently. These are two artists whose recordings were both part of my childhood:

Burl Ives versus Theodore Bikel.

Maybe someone else on Mudcat has considered the parallels between the two, but if they have, I have missed it.

It's very telling. Both prospered as recording artists and concert performers. Both were actors of distinction. Their audiences may not be the exact same people but they certainly overlap, there are countless record buyers and concert attendees, radio/tv/movie ticket buyers, you know who I mean, who paid attention to both artists.

And now, conflict-averse coward that I am, I am going to stand back and let everybody else compare their public images and their choices and actions. To me it seems that there is much room for discussion on that topic.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 03:46 PM

He was an early influence for me. Musically, not politically.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Sep 16 - 03:49 PM

Yes!


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Josephine
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 06:29 PM

I believe he is underrated by all accounts, yes. Ives gets a lot of flack due to his recordings of Old-Traditional Folk Songs and Recordings for Children. What people don't know, is that he is quite versatile than many would like to believe. Plus, his overall career as an Actor cannot be overlooked, even though there is more to his film roles, than "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof."


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: meself
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 08:41 PM

I'm not sure what is meant here by 'underrated' and 'underappreciated'. By whom? How is the rating and appreciation supposed to be shown? Nothing against Ives, by any means, but there have been thousands of inspired, brilliant performers who are now forgotten, if they were ever 'known' in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,gopherit
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 10:38 PM

1956. I was 8. My dad was making hot cakes and I was listening to Big John and Sparkey on the radio. Burl Ives came on and my dad said,"Listen to him. He's a real good singer." "Ooooohhhhh, the, buzzin' of the bees..." I was hooked. Still am. I know there are fancier players but I still think there are very few players even today who can match their playing to their singing and the song as well as Burl did. Under appreciated? Not by me!!!


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 01:32 AM

I saw him [ I think in the 1970s ] , he did a solo concert at Halifax Civic Theatre as it was called then, he stood alone on the stage with 2 guitars and sang and played for 2 hours without a break.

Pretty good IMHO.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 03:17 AM

The answer then is YES he is underated ~~

like many BBC Radio had regular broadcasts to listen to, mainly children's programmes and I also was under the misconception of wrong doings under the "witch hunt" years now explained to my satisfaction at least as to the US establishments fear of Communism without knowing what it actually meant and hope fully now people can distinguish between Socialism and Communism ~ I digress

I loved his voice and his songs and remember also that he was an actor a good one too

NB: programme is right spelling in UK program is computers

I even have Burl Ives song book and seems he did have a fair old repertoire of songs

We in UK have been having enquiries into Government wrong doings (Hillsborough) and just had Orgreave turned down ~ did the Macarthy witch hunts fiasco ever be deemed a travesty of justice in the US? er um just wondered ~ we in UK were certainly not impressed!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 08:50 AM

Burl Ives is a much more substantial subject than his present obscurity would make you think. From about the late 1940s to the mid-50s, Burl Ives was *the*singer of folk songs to a large crowd of record buyers and radio-TV audiences. His days of soupy songs were then in the future (and were a big surprise to me when they arrived in the late 50s), because to begin with he hewed strictly to real traditional songs, and sang them straightforwardly and well.

I learned most of my early repertoire of traditional songs from Burl Ives. (His 60-70 folk standards were rightly known as "Burl Ives songs" to hundreds of thousands of people for whom folk songs *were* Burl Ives songs. He had quite a number of songs from his family heritage, and more that he had picked up all around the country and in folk song scholars' books (including quite a number of Irish songs, he being part Irish if I remember correctly) and they remain great songs today.

It's true (for us), yet in a sense not really true that there were "more traditional" ways of singing. In fact for people in his time and place, Illinois, Burl's style was traditional or semi-traditional. We tend to think he's less so because we're used to hearing Appalachian style, cowboy style, etc. But people in the tier of states just south of the Great Lakes sang like that, or something like that—a sort of styleless style we might say. Compare Library of Congress and Folkways albums of singers from that region, or Chubby Parker on WLS radio (whom it seems Burl heard and imitated to a degree), etc.

Yes, I definitely think Burl Ives is extremely underrated, especially in terms of his wide repertoire that became enormously influential. Burl Ives, for the few years before he turned to the more moneymaking pop stuff (and movies) to help make a living was a staunch traditionalist. His 60-70 traditional songs, many from the Lomax collections, but quite a few unique to him, became standards. Apart from those named above, think of "Buckeye Jim" (my all-time favorite Ives song). "Barbara Allen" was popularized by him. "Golden Vanity." "Streets of Laredo" was already well known among folklorists but he was the first to spread it far and wide. "Molly Malone" among the Irish ones. You can add many more examples.

Not until Pete Seeger's "American Ballads and Folk Songs" series on Folkways in the following decade was a comparable number and quality of Anglo-American folk songs put out there to a wide public. Pete too was already singing in the 40s (and his "Darling Corey" Folkways LP, 1950, still sets the standard for American traditional song performance by a non-traditional singer), but his stunning personal impact (apart from the Almanacs and Weavers) hit slightly later. Soon, like Burl's, Pete's traditional work became overshadowed by non-traditional songs—in Pete's case topical and political songs, which were what the times called for.

I would go so far as to say Burl is the father of traditional folksinging among the non-traditional-song public during the past century, an influence most people don't realize, since in many cases he influenced those they learned from. Ives' prominence for those few years had to be experienced; it is not well remembered, but ought to be. His (somewhat misunderstood) HUAC performance doomed him for the folkies (me too, for a long time). But unquestionably a reassessment of him and his role is in order.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 04:07 PM

Hi, Bob. Well said.

Twenty of Ives's radio shows from 1946-47 are available on CD: "Burl Ives, Philco's Friendly Troubadour" (Echo Records, 2003). Almost every song is traditional.

A welcome blast from the past.


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Subject: RE: Is Burl Ives underated?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 10:50 PM

Keberoxu, another "folk scare" singer who distinguished himself as an actor, was Alan Arkin.
Were there others?
-Joe-


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